Omicron variation of coronavirus has created new concerns around the world as countries seek to announce ways to stop the spread of this new species called ‘alternative anxiety’ by the World Health Organization (WHO). This has put the travel plans of people all over the world in limbo.
With Christmas and New Year approaching, governments are embarking on a new journey, as fears mount around the Omicron intensify. The United Kingdom (UK), United States (US), Denmark, South Africa, and Norway have registered the highest number of Omicron cases.
The UK alone accounts for about 50 percent of Omicron cases found worldwide. Meanwhile, other countries that have reported Omicron cases include Australia, Botswana, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Namibia, Russia, and South Korea.
Speaking of India, with a growing number of omicron cases, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold a meeting to review the situation in the country on Thursday. For Indians planning to travel abroad or within India for the Christmas-New Year holidays, it is important to know the restrictions imposed by many countries and provinces within the country during the Omicron terror.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on December 9 said all existing international airlines under the existing Bubble Agreements will continue to operate until January 2022.
This means that all commercial flights to countries where India has such an existing system will operate accordingly. However, several countries have announced new curbs, travel and more, to test the ongoing Omicron distribution.
Meanwhile, passengers from high-risk countries – Botswana, South Africa, and Zimbabwe will need to undergo RT-PCR testing as soon as they arrive at Maharashtra International Airport. Travelers will also be detained for seven days for a second RT-PCR test to be conducted on the seventh day, according to a national government directive.
“High-risk airlines may be postponed for a preliminary start and various counters will be arranged by the appropriate air traffic controllers at all State airports of the State of Maharashtra for inspection and verification,” the order read. It also stated that if a passenger was found to have COVI-19 in any test, he would be transferred to a hospital.
The UK, which makes up more than half of the various omicron cases found worldwide, has yet to offer a chance for a ‘Christmas closure’. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed he will not announce further COVID-19 restrictions in the UK ahead of Christmas but warned that the situation remains “well balanced” before the new year.
Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab said on Monday that 12 people had been infected by Omicron in Britain. He added that the government is monitoring the situation and relying heavily on real data to come. Raab went on to say that the government “will take a little time to investigate this sensitive issue of Omicron’s plight.”
The country is tightening its restrictions on COVID-19 to curb Omicron’s diverse proliferation, said Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store last week.
“No doubt – the new alternatives are changing the rules,” he was quoted as saying. Norway is already on the verge of a gradual closure with the closure of gyms and swimming pools with strict rules in schools. The country has also banned the supply of alcohol in bars and restaurants.
About 45 U.S. states have registered certified cases of Omicron variants that have led to the approval of masks and dozens of curbs in different provinces.
Meanwhile, Biden officials are considering reducing travel restrictions to South African countries as the rate of US Omicron infection rises, says senior infectious disease specialist Dr. Anthony Fauci Monday.
The United States on November 29 banned almost all immigrants if they were in one of the eight southern African countries, including South Africa 14 days ago.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last week began distributing COVID-19 free services to international travelers at several airports. The CDC encourages – but does not authorize – international airlines to receive new COVID-19 tests upon arrival in the United States.
The new rules went into effect on December 6 requiring almost all people flying to the United States to receive a COVID-19 free test within one day of travel.
United Arab Emirates (UAE)
The UAE, which also sees an increase in COVID cases, has not set travel restrictions to prevent tourists from traveling to popular destinations such as Dubai. Indians traveling to Dubai or any other city in the UAE are required to carry a bad print or digital report containing COVID-19 RT-PCR taken within 48 hours before departure.
Passengers must also submit a negative RT-PCR test performed at the departure airport within six hours of departure. Upon arrival in the UAE, passengers are required to take another COVID-19 PCR test at the airport.
Flight from UAE to India: Steps to follow
- Mandatory PCR test within 72 hours of flight departure time. Passengers are required to submit a negative test result while completing an Air Suvidha form.
- Travelers are required to submit an advertising form to the Air Suvidha online portal before the trip, which includes details of the last 14 days of travel.
- Airport authorities may conduct random PCR checks for arrival. If the visitor finds out they have it, a sample will be sent for genome testing and treatment will be followed according to the protocol. If the test result is negative, the passenger will be asked to check his or her health for 14 days.
As the country reports its first “local” Omicron case, Thailand has decided to reinstate the mandatory detention of foreign tourists.
Thailand has decided to reinstate the mandatory detention of foreign tourists and establish a “check and travel” program for fully vaccinated immigrants. Government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana also announced the suspension of “sandbox” programs that allow visitors to stay and tour certain places, outside of Phuket Island, where he said they would stay. He added that the decision would be reviewed on January 4.
Wangboonkongchana went on to say that about 200,000 people have registered for the “check and go” program, known as Thailand Pass, but who have not yet entered Thailand will be allowed to come. They will be subject to coronavirus testing when they arrive and a second test seven days later at government expense. He did not provide further details.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha said Thailand would not accept new applications for a “go and test” program.
The decision came after Thailand recorded its first omicron transfer at home last week when a returning resident found out he did not have it when he arrived but later family members were found to be infected and infected. A few other good cases were all caught up after the test when he arrived and he was kept in solitary confinement.
Singapore has suspended its Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL), which has allowed entry without the detention of international tourists, immediately. The program is suspended until January 20, 2022. Meanwhile, visitors from 24 countries on the VTL list, including India, can still book flight tickets to Singapore from January 21 onwards, if available.
However, the government has said it will reduce the VTL allocation and ticket sales after the specified date. The total VTL flight tickets will reach 50% of the previously allocated share.
Japan has banned all foreign tourists from entering the country until December 31 as “emergency action” against the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. The country had just begun to reduce border controls on November 8, when fully vaccinated foreigners who were not foreign nationals were allowed to enter for authorized purposes such as education and business.
Malaysia, a tourist destination, has approved a non-invasive PCR test for foreign nationals, taken within three days of travel. Passengers are also required to test COVID-19 at the airport upon arrival.
However, travelers from India must submit a PCR test taken within two days of departure and must wear the digital tracker provided by the medical officer upon arrival.
The government has ordered that all vaccinated immigrants be quarantined for seven days, and those who are not vaccinated or partially vaccinated must be quarantined for 10 days. In addition, all foreign visitors to Malaysia must obtain a permit through the MyTravelPass / MyEntry portal before their departure.
The Swiss government has increased its search requirement. Anyone traveling to the country must register electronically.
International travelers arriving in Switzerland, regardless of their immunization or recovery status, must report a negative PCR test report taken within 72 hours of admission. A second test four to seven days after arrival is also mandatory.
The government has also introduced legislation that only allows those who have a vaccination passport or proof of recovery to enter restaurants and indoor events.